Hong Kong looks across the border to host international matches
HKCA says a stadium built for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou can accommodate increased fixture list while the code waits for a new home base
The cricket stadium in Guangzhou built for the 2010 Asian Games is a "win-win" interim measure for hosting Hong Kong's crowded international calendar until the city gets a world-standard ground, said top official Charlie Burke on Wednesday.
"It will be the perfect solution until we wait for the Hong Kong government to provide us with a top-class facility. It will kill two birds with one stone for the ICC - having use of a ready-made ground as well as raising the profile of international cricket in China," said Burke, the newly appointed director of cricket for the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA).
Hong Kong's men's elevation to one-day international (ODI) status, following their success in finishing third in the 10-team ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand, means an increase in international fixtures against other leading associate members such as Ireland and Scotland in all three versions of the game - four-day cricket, ODI and Twenty20 - over the next four years.
HKCA secretary John Cribbin said: We will need to play 84 days of cricket against the top seven associates over the next two-year cycle, of which 42 days will have to be at home. But right now we don't have a ground capable of hosting these matches."
Burke, the former national coach, believes the only way Hong Kong can honour their international commitments in the short term would be to look across the border.
"The Asian Games stadium in Guangzhou is underutilised and with some proper maintenance and a full-time curator will be able to host all our home games until we have our own international-sized ground," he said. "In this way, Hong Kong can also play a key role in the growth of the game in China."
A world-class cricket facility was built at the Guangdong University of Technology for the 2010 Asian Games. Plans for it to become the focal point for cricket in China have faded and the pitches have fallen into disrepair.
In 2011, the China Cricket Association signed a five-year deal with the university whereby the ground would be available exclusively for cricket for six months of the year in the hope of attracting international sides.
"It would be a win-win situation for everyone. The ICC would be able to take the game to China, we would have a ground where we can play all our home games and hopefully this will help raise interest in the game on the mainland," Burke said.
The HKCA, meanwhile, have applied for money from the government's newly created HK$1 billion fund intended for the development of recreational and community facilities on 18 hectares of restored landfill sites. They are hoping to receive up to HK$100 million from it to build an international-class ground.
"Until we get that, identify the site where to build and all that, I guess Guangzhou would be a good option," Cribbin said.